In The Quiet

by Stefani on 16-March-2009

For the first time since, I really don't know when, years and years, I spent the night alone in my house last night. 

If there is one word for my feelings on the subject it is "conflicted."

From the moment my men drove away for their "guy camping trip," – me at the end of the driveway waving madly and fighting back tears –  the inner war began.

Back inside, the house was so. 

very.

Q

U

I

E

T. 
I had to turn on the radio just to drown out all that roaring silence. 

At first, I thought I'd clean, and then I didn't because it felt like wiping away all evidence of the family that lives here. So I wrote and I drew and I slipped into a happy little place of fulfilling work and uninterrupted time in which to do it. 

A Little Spring Up In Here

I watched a whole movie and listened to TWO full episodes of Selected Shorts while drawing and painting. And only once did I start to miss the little hands that always demand to pull up a chair and share my paints. 

And then I missed them a lot. 

I wondered what they were doing. 

In the Quiet

I ate a dinner of wilted greens with warm mustard and onion dressing and some herbed new potatoes and I never once had to tell anyone to lean over their plate, finish their milk or "just try it, you might find that you like it." I lit a candle and drank wine and wavered between "ahhhhhhh" and missing them. 

They called me after dinner and I learned that Ryder crashed on his bike and suffered a rather large lump on the head. Each boy in turn told me, in barely contained glee, that the crash was "like HUGE" and that he screamed "something awful" and there was "blood everywhere" and in the background I heard their Papa saying, "Guys knock it off. You're going to worry your mom!"

Silence. 

And then, "Daddy let him have FIVE marshmallows and we only got THREE!"

I hear in the background, Ryder sing-songing "fiiiiiiive! I got fiiiiiive!" and I say, "did you brush your teeth?"

"Mamaaaaaa!"

I know, I know. It is good for them to do this whole guy thing. They are out there with with their Dad, and also another Dad and sons. They are fishing and spitting and Papa's letting them swim further than I would and probably get closer to the fire too. And sometimes that's good. 

And it's good for me too… this time to breathe and work and rest and be. And also to step back, gain some perspective and see that all that crazy noise and mess and chaos that usually lives here, those things that sometimes get on my last good nerve… really, they are precious to me. It's hard to go just one day without them. 

I went to bed last night, and it felt strange to be the only one breathing in this place. No creaking oldest boy's bed. No giggles and up-too-late whispering. No papa bear's rumbly night breathing. And the knowledge, both bitter and sweet, that there would be no wee feet climbing in bed and winding up in my back. There would be no clamoring for breakfast in the morning. 

Now, by the light of day, with my time in the quiet winding down, I'm still conflicted. There's so much still that I could accomplish, finishing projects and cleaning and, and and… but they will be home too soon for me to get it all done!

Oh! 

They will be home soon! 

Not soon enough!

I'm going to kiss them 'til their skin wrinkles when they walk in that door!

Sarah Jackson March 16, 2009 at 8:11 am

aww. I know that feeling, though it’s been a couple of years since Jeff and the kids left without me. And you’re right – it’s a very bittersweet feeling indeed.

Stephanie March 16, 2009 at 8:15 am

And then you’ll hear “Mamaaaaa” all over again! Cleaning can be done any time. Time to work on projects uninterrupted comes rarely. Good for you for taking advantage!

Amber March 16, 2009 at 8:46 am

Oh, you captured the conflict so well. Time to ourselves is a precious commodity. But then we sort of miss the chaos. Thanks for a very well-written post.

Miko's Girl March 16, 2009 at 8:49 am

The first time I was by myself was on a business trip to Phoenix. I thought I would relish the king size bed all by myself without any interruptions. Instead I missed them so much it hurt. Mamas need their time alone if only to realize how much you miss the chaos that is this time of life.

Kelly March 16, 2009 at 8:53 am

The only time I’ve left my boys was to go to the hospital to have the next. I don’t like it one little bit. I know the day is coming when they’ll just take their daddy camping…I got nervous butterflies just from reading your wonderful words here. It’s hard to let them go isn’t it?

our little love nest March 16, 2009 at 8:59 am

fully relate
Dee 🙂

Julie Alvarez March 16, 2009 at 9:09 am

I understand your feelings, Stefani. As my little girl is spending a few hours at kinder now, everyday in the morning my house is so quiet too. We need it, and we fear it.
We want them to shut up sometimes, and also, we fear the silence of their absence.
Love, to you.
And many kisses, to yours.

Kate March 16, 2009 at 9:30 am

Oh so true. Glad you took advantage of the time to yourself. Those boys will come home eager to see you too, you know. 🙂

Lisa Clarke March 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

I know that feeling. You put it very well 🙂

tracy March 16, 2009 at 10:07 am

A timely and well written post–we just discussed this very topic this morning at our weekly ECFE (Early Childhood Parent Education) class. When asked what we parents do to nurture ourselves, first we chuckled, then we all came up with some variation of spending time alone. While it can be tricky to schedule and we feel conflicted, we agreed that if the parent’s needs are met, we can better meet the needs of our children.

debbieR March 16, 2009 at 10:09 am

So sweet and true in every way. I long for some of that me time and then when I get it…it is much too quiet. I totally get that “conflicted” feeling because I feel that way too! You put it into words really nicely! I hope you got a little something out of your time, enjoyment and renewal.

jenn W March 16, 2009 at 10:41 am

What a beautiful post! You are very good at describing feelings. I have definitely felt that same inner conflict. I was on hospital bed-rest for a month with my third child. Many of my friends were jealous that I was getting a “vacation”. I was extremely lonely, the silence was awful, and I missed my children and husband horribly. I had to be flown to a hospital that was too far away for my family to visit. All I wanted to do was go home, so I could cook them dinner, give them baths, and tuck them into bed. I even missed my oldest child’s birthday (the only day I cried while at the hospital). I always try to remind myself of that time whenever I feel tired or overwhelmed by motherhood. There is beauty in the crazy, chaotic days of child rearing that I know I will miss when they are grown.

Qalballah March 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

I know this feeling. You plan to do so much, then when they are out the door you just want to stand with your nose pressed to the window watching for when they come back…

melissa March 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

stefani, beautiful butterflies. just gorgeous. I love to be alone in the house, but it DOES take just a bit of getting used to.

Annie March 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I can’t believe that you made yourself an actual good dinner. That is very responsible of you! I usually just eat macaroni or something when I’m home alone and don’t have to cook for the whole family. That’s not very often though- I don’t like to have them gone either 🙂

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Exactly right! Sometimes I guess it takes a little space to realize what you have. 🙂

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Oh it is!!! I kept having to remind myself to relish it… but eeeeek! It’s hard for a mama hen to have her chickies out of her site. Especially when she knows there’s swimming and fires and wild animals and bees and…

I’l stop.

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Oh yes.
Right up until I begin to mention things like room cleaning and the eating of vegetables and bathing 🙂

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Isn’t that crazy? We want space so bad and then we don’t know how to stand it when we get it?
You’re right though. I’m a more patient mama when I’ve had a little time to reflect.

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Oh Jenn! I can’t imagine how hard that must have been… and doubly so with all the emotional stuff that comes with having a baby, and birthday guilt on top of that. Oh goodness! Yes, yes I wish I could bottle those aching for them moments, so that I could pull them out and inhale their bitterness, and just remember, when they are driving me straight up the wall 🙂

I’m not even going to tell you about how I sent myself into a crying tizzy thinking that the house would be this silent, EVERYDAY in just a a few years when they’re grown and gone.

Nope, not going to talk about that.

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm

So true. I spent a good bit of time just wandering, trying to figure out what to do with myself.
My workspace is right by the window that looks out to our drive. Don’t think I didn’t look out it every single time a car drove past, thinking it might be them. 🙂

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Thank you so much Melissa! I’m really enjoying making them! it feels so springy!

Stefani March 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Ha!
I actually DID pour myself a bowl of cereal and then thought, “wait, what am I doing? I should do something NICE for myself. Have a GOOD dinner!” So I made something I knew they wouldn’t like and ate on the china and everything whilst watching Desperate Housewives 🙂

Denise March 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

the noise of my kids (and actually now six little chicks) is the best noise of all. Yet, sometimes I crave the quiet too. Too much quiet is just that – too much.

Corynne March 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

this is hilarious and sweet. i laughed out loud several times because i know just what you mean about dinner time and cold feet up your back. thanks for your words.

jessica March 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I had a quiet, alone night as well this weekend…and it was way too quiet!

Relyn March 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm

“Kiss them till their skin wrinkles.” I really like that. There is perhaps nothing so sweet as kissing those little faces we’ve missed and love so much. Welcome home, Blue Yonder Boys.

Cassandra March 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Beautifully described. I too spent some time in quiet seclusion this weekend, but mine was terrible coughing/hacking/sniffling induced. It’s been a long time since this mama has been bed ridden. I didn’t realize how hard it is to go without the kisses and the hugs and the snuggles (trying to keep them from getting this horror.)

Ansley March 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm

oh….I know those moments of silence and deciding what to do with my time. They don’t come too often but when they do, they are o-so-precious!
I see that you enjoyed every minute….

heather jane March 16, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I work just one morning a week now and I honestly can’t wait to get home to my littlest one. I always hope she isn’t sleeping so I can love her up. It’s crazy how quick it happens.

maya hackett March 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm

It’s so easy to resent the relentlessness of boy-wrangling. Not the boys of course, but the incessant cleaning, clearing, reminding, chasing, pleading, giving in, rethinking & waiting. “And also to step back, gain some perspective and see that all that crazy noise and mess and chaos that usually lives here, those things that sometimes get on my last good nerve… really, they are precious to me.” This is what’s true, though. I LOVE that you thought cleaning might erase them a bit, I so relate to that. All those dishes, those piles of laundry on the couch, the music books, the kid mags, the colored pencils, the totally inappropriate bits of food all over the floor. Those are just the ultimate signs of success, aren’t they? Loved- people-tracks.

tara March 17, 2009 at 3:52 am

Great post. I hope your guys had fun on their camping trip but I know you’re so happy to have all that energy and rambuctiousness back!!

Jen March 17, 2009 at 4:43 am

It is funny…when you have it, you are lost and don’t know what to do with yourself. And then when they are around, you dream about having a moment to breath. Ah, such is the life of a momma. The painting is amazing. And how dare daddy get more marshmallows than the kids!

erin March 17, 2009 at 5:22 am

i often wish to be home by myself for a night…but now i am thinking it’s maybe not such a great idea. someday.

Mandy March 17, 2009 at 5:55 am

This is so true. Last year was the first year all the girls were old enough to go to church camp. A whole week to myself! I so looked forward to it, then they left. I didn’t even know what to do with myself. By the time they returned I was bordering on depression. Whatever am I going to do when they grow up?

maya*made March 17, 2009 at 7:08 am

what wonderful, bittersweet post! a milestone for each of you… I love how you chose to spend you time!

dutchbaby March 17, 2009 at 7:48 am

I popped over here after reading your wondrous post at Relyn’s. I’m so glad you didn’t clean in favor of time in your happy place. I hope you have many more solo days.

I would like to grab all those pencils from your header and start coloring your wonderful drawing! That is a very suggestive image!

tams March 17, 2009 at 11:11 am

well put.
Those photos are beautiful!
I’m doing a giveaway on my blog today>> http://www.tzbrink.blogspot.com

mamaroots March 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

sweet- I know that same conflicted miss them but ahhhh moments when my boys head out- rumor has it maybe at the end of spring break week next week! Love your butterfly sketches- I just finished a new piece and i was studying one of those same little beauties- I think it was called Spring Azur! You might check out another neato butterfly book called Bird, Butterfly, and Eel by James Prosek- neat illustrations and I love the migration look via the eel also.

elissa March 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

so ridiculously true. every last word of it.

Lorilee Kopp March 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

all i can say is … yep.

mommyknows March 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I can’t ever quite enjoy ‘me’ time like I should either. Great post.

Abby March 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm

ohhhhh my you make my heart ache. I am reading this as I sit in my house today alone with the baby my man and 2 y/o off to poppys farm for the day and I truly miss him. i dont know myself and keep turning to check on him and talk to him only to be greeted by empty space…. hurry home to all our handsomes.

thanx for this beautiful post.

Tracy March 18, 2009 at 5:32 am

I know that feeling. Sometimes when my husband goes away and I’m alone I relish that time, but at the same time, don’t quite know what to do with myself, and I wander around the house…

Colleen March 18, 2009 at 8:40 am

oh Stefani i love this post. you are such an amazing writer; i feel i was there with you.

just last june i spent 5 days by myself here at home for the very first time in 18 years of motherhood. it was both wonderful and awful. i missed my family terribly, but i knew it was so important that i have the experience of it. in the end it was the best thing to happen to me.

thanks for sharing yours.

Stefani March 18, 2009 at 11:00 am

A week?????
Oh goodness no!
My oldest is going to camp for the first time this summer. He’s so thrilled and I’m FUHREAKED! I know he’ll have a great time, but I’m going to have a really hard time going 6 days with virtually NO contact with him at all.

Stefani March 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

Well thank you for that! I as hoping for that kind of feeling with that pairing… like when you’re waiting for that last note of a song, to resolve the chord.
I’m glad you’ve stopped by and hope to see you again soon!

Stefani March 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

Yes! The spring Azure! I just liked it’s name so much I had to include. Very romantic sounding butterfly, that one.

Thank you for the book recomendation!

Stefani March 18, 2009 at 11:03 am

I had forgotten that feeling! My husband used to travel a lot before we had kids, and while it was kind of fun to do my own thing, I always felt so … I don’t know, just “off.”

Stefani March 18, 2009 at 11:04 am

Goodness… I’m going to have to take lots of years to work myself up to five days!
You know I’ve taken little two day trips with my mom, even went to Japan last year for 5 days, but it’s different to be the one left at home… it’s such a contrast, all the noise and hooplah of getting them out the door and then the silence they leave.

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